Aust & NZ
24th Dec 2013

Insight by Senior Sales Manager, Tim Chopping

And so it begins. If the standard ‘new vehicle customer’ life cycle was defined, we believe it would look something like this:

  1. Inbound Inquiry (walk-in, phone, online)
  2. Appointment Management
  3. Road to a Sale
  4. Sales Management of the above
  5. Introduction to the service department
  6. Service Reminders
  7. After Sales Service Marketing
  8. Surveys
  9. Problem Resolution & Escalation
  10. Customer Experience Based Marketing
  11. Strategic Time, Message & Audience Marketing

Even with this simplified list, the opportunities that present themselves to exceed your customers’ expectations are endless if you have CRM processes in place. Let’s follow a few real life scenarios.

“Recover lost vehicle sales.”

In the sales department, dealership management often coach staff to follow up prospective customers until a progression in the road to a sale occurs. Let’s say a customer makes an enquiry online - the next step may be to book an appointment for a test drive. After the test drive, the sales person should look to quote for the business and engage in negotiations. Each stage of the sale must be measurable and reportable within the dealership CRM. Why? If it cannot be measured, there can be no proven return for the cost of such lead generation and more importantly, dealership management cannot coach staff to increase conversion rates or forecast potential earnings in any given time period.

Upon a successful or unsuccessful sale, additional CRM practices come into play. If a sales person decides a prospect is no longer going to purchase, the reason must be recorded. Why did they not purchase? Where else did they purchase? What else did they purchase? And inevitably, are they still in the market but a failure to follow up has ocurred?

We are now seeing dealerships run robust automations within their CRM – stemming from the ability to automatically escalate any prospect marked as “lost” to a manager or other staff member to validate the status of the prospect. The simple fact that someone is responsible and accountable for following up is proving so successful in fact, many dealerships are recording 5-7 sales per month that would previously have been lost.

“Differentiate from other dealers.”

Some dealerships do and some dealerships don’t contact customers after a service job. However, many times the manufacturer does contact the customers to confirm that they were happy with your service – and they do so for a simple reason. If they can ensure the customers are coming back to ANY franchise point, then the brand gets the first chance to sell the customer another car when the time comes. If the Manufacturer contacts a customer that is not satisfied with a dealer’s service, they may recommend another service centre and the dealership has lost a customer without even knowing about it.

If, on the other hand the dealership has a process in place to counter this, they can take total control over customer satisfaction and therefore service retention. Many dealerships leave the service follow-ups to the service team. Some have a dedicated call consultant. Many employ a third-party company to make calls on their behalf. Some even send an SMS asking the customer to reply only if unhappy. Regardless of the method, the most crucial part of any customer follow-up or surveying, is measuring the results.

We are now seeing intelligent electronic campaigns being automatically generated from the CRM system asking their customer to answer a couple strategic questions. Based on the results, further automations are triggered. For example, a completely satisfied customer may be directed to the dealership’s social media page, or even asked if they would write a review online. Unsatisfied customers can automatically be sent to a staff member’s “to-do” list for the appropriate follow up, which again can be measured and escalated further should the task not be completed in a timely manner.

“Strategic low cost – high reward marketing.”

Dealerships keeping good CRM databases are able to “tap-into” the power of previous customers and make the right offer, to the right person at the right time. One such success story revolves around large customer service spend. If a dealership can report on major services completed during the previous week or month, they can now take advantage of the following campaign:

A customer goes into a dealership for a major service because they care about their car. Even if they have been to independent service centres for previous minor services, they know a franchise dealership is the only place they can be assured their car will be treated with the right tools and diagnostic equipment required for major work. A fair observation would be that if they have come to a dealership for their first major service, they will be asked to pay the most expensive bill they have seen yet for work on their car. If major services are around the 3-4 year mark and the average customer is in a position to change their car over around this time, the dealership must be aware at this point.

After the bill the customer knows 2 things: 1) Their car is getting expensive and 2) The last place they took their car (dealership service department) charged them a large amount of money. Instantly, this customer is in the market for a new car, and the servicing dealership is now out of the running because of the bill.

However, if a dealership can collect this information, and has the ability to action it appropriately and in a timely manner, the following is possible: An automatic email from the sales manager is sent making the customer a special offer. Should that customer trade their car in against a new vehicle within the next 60 days more or less, the dealership will refund the cost of the major service. Any customer opening the email can be tracked and a scheduled call made by the sales manager to follow up on the offer…

…effectively commencing the customer life cycle again.

If you would like to learn more in depth ways to improve your customer life cycles, please contact your CRM Consultant today.